"Wilde rejects 'lies' over homosexual bill"
The first image in this set was published in The Manawatu Evening Standard on Tuesday, 18 June 1985 - “Wilde rejects 'lies' over homosexual bill." (The other images were not published.) " Some of the 300-strong audience who filled the YMCA hall in Palmerston North last night to hear speakers, including Wellington Central MP Fran Wilde … support the Homosexual Law Reform Bill.” The Homosexual Law Reform Bill (eventually passed in 1986) sought to decriminalise consensual sex between males over 16 years old, bringing the law into line with those governing heterosexual sex. “’There have been many lies told about the bill in a deliberate attempt to frighten people into opposing it’ [Wilde] said. ‘Most of what has been said is absolute rubbish – emotional, hysterical and factually incorrect.’” At the meeting, Wilde referenced rhetoric promoted by the Salvation Army that the bill would allow for sexual acts between boys between 12 and 16 was an ‘insidious and nasty lie’ and was a ‘gross distortion of the legislation… being put about by people who know the best of frightening others into opposing the bill is to make them fearful that their children will be somehow under threat.’” Decriminalisation was also seen as an important health issue due to the Aids epidemic. “An effective prevention campaign requires the co-operation of the major target groups. At present it could be said that the Health Department is in theory breaking the law by co-operating with criminals.” She added, ‘[W]e will never fight Aids properly until people feel they will not be persecuted or prosecuted because of their sexual orientation.” Other speakers, who pointed out how the legislation was tied to other human rights campaigns, included Māori activist Toni Davis Waho, Trade Unionist Roger Middlemass, Lesbian activist Allanah Ryan and MaGRA (Manawatu Gay Rights Association – later MaLGRA, Manawatu Lesbian and Gay Rights Association) representative Vernon Tile.